Smokin’ Chokin’ and Chowing with the King

Who doesn’t love digging into a scrumptious meal that leaves you craving for more? In a city like Chicago, known for its diverse culinary offerings, there is a plethora of hot dog stands and restaurants that have come and gone over time. One such place that I hold dear in my memories is Terry’s Red Hot. Tucked away in a parking lot at the corner of North and Larrabee Streets, this Asian family-owned hotspot served up some of the most delicious, albeit not-so-authentic, tacos I have ever tasted. Alongside their tantalizing hot dogs, they dished out delectable fried rice and other culinary delights. Sadly, like many other hidden gems, Terry’s Red Hot succumbed to the passage of time, leaving an empty space in my heart and stomach. However, this void was eventually filled by a remarkable new arrival – Kababish.

Kababish, a hidden gem nestled in Old Town, is a Pakistani hole-in-the-wall eatery that caters primarily to the Pakistani community in Chicago. With a large parking lot, it has become a convenient go-to spot for those seeking a taste of home. The owner, a native of Karachi, brings his experience running a restaurant back in his hometown to this small but mighty culinary haven. The menu is concise, featuring 6-8 rotating pre-made dishes that vary from day to day. Saturdays bring forth the beloved Kata-kat, a popular Pakistani meat dish originating in Karachi and made from offal. On Mondays, you can savor the delightful combination of Murgh Cholay – chicken and chickpeas. Of course, traditional items like biryani and chili chicken are available every day. In addition, Kababish boasts an array of grilled meats, including chicken boti and chapli kebab, that can be enjoyed inside warm and fluffy naan bread.

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Now, let me tell you about my newfound obsession – the chicken chapli wrap. This snack has swiftly become my favorite in town. The kebab, which is more akin to a patty, is incredibly flavorful, and the naan leaves nothing to be desired in terms of quality. Inside the wrap, you’ll find a few slices of raw onion that provide a refreshing crunch, perfectly complemented by a side of yogurt chutney. But that’s not all! The frontier chicken is another star on Kababish’s menu. This tantalizing dish consists of seasoned chunks of chicken seared to perfection on a hot flattop alongside jalapeños and onions. What sets this rendition apart is the attention to detail. Unlike other versions I’ve tried, the meat isn’t steamed; instead, it’s seared to preserve its succulence. The jalapeños and onions retain their crispness, adding a delightful texture to each bite. Paired with soft and fluffy rice and made-to-order naan, this dish creates a truly gratifying dining experience. Don’t worry about rushing to get there early; Kababish opens at 4 PM and stays open until 1 AM, making it one of the few spots in the city that caters to late-night cravings.

If you visit Kababish over a weekend, particularly around dinnertime, you’ll witness the bustling ambiance as the local Pakistani community gathers to savor the flavors of their homeland. The popularity of this cozy Pakistani hotspot speaks volumes about the quality of its food and the warmth of its atmosphere.

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Next time you find yourself yearning for a taste of authentic Pakistani cuisine, head over to Kababish in Old Town. Prepare to be enchanted by the rich flavors, exceptional hospitality, and the joy of discovering a hidden gem in the heart of Chicago.

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